In more recent reading on the matter, I came across this statement from a Member of the House of Representatives:
“Mandatory food labeling is not about food safety,” [Dan] Benishek said. “No matter where our food comes from, regulations remain in place to ensure safety and traceability regardless of origin.”
I’ll admit, I had to stifle a weird laugh. Our food safety system is very much dependent upon consumer awareness. Funding to both the FDA and the USDA has been consistently reduced, and neither agency is adequately staffed. In fact, the USDA has been shifting the pork inspection processes to the producers. The Congressman’s statement is technically true - the regulations are in place - but, for lack of better examples, so are immigration laws and firearm background checks.
The use of the Budget Omnibus to repeal COOL may be a recent development, but none of this is really new. I just noticed that I posted the following about a year ago in the old place:
In this case, we have a basic regulatory system which puts a significant amount of the burden for food safety on consumers. A political climate that is championing reductions in regulatory budgets and allowing the increasingly loud voice of industry to dominate the conversation. And, an industry (meat production in general and, particularly, pork production) that is near monopolistic and, simultaneously, tax-payer subsidized.
Now, I’m not saying that this is the end of the world, and frankly, on a personal level, it’s not going to change my consumption patterns in any significant way. It is, however, part of a troubling trend that deserves attention at a level below activists and financially-interested parties. I think it’s fair to start asking the question, Do we as consumers want (or trust) industry self-inspection? I’ll let Upton Sinclair answer the question for me.
I suppose I should have also been asking, Do we as consumers want (or trust) Congress to determine what information we’re capable of processing? I mean, I’m beyond confident that I can handle more than either Benishek or his co-sponsor, Ted Yoho.